Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Swearing In Court

Wednesday was my swear-in ceremony. I originally had my heart set on being sworn in at the fancy downtown seattle courthouse with its marble floors and walls and all its prestige. But considering that my family wanted to attend and that, like me, they live across the water from Seattle, I opted to be sworn in at the small, local courthouse.

Turns out, I'm so glad I did!

I live in such a close-knit, friendly community. My husband and I used to work for a local government agency so we know many of the elected officials and other connected people. It's a great feeling to know the people around you and to feel connected to your community. While I hear the community of legal professionals seems small almost anywhere you go, it is especially so in our county. When I decided to be sworn-in at the local courthouse, I asked my old employer, the first partner I ever worked for, if he knew anyone who would be willing to perform (is that the right verb?) my oath. He suggested a judge right away and arranged the whole thing. It turns out that the judge knew my mom from highschool. The judge was also friends with my dad's boss, the Mayor of our city. So the Mayor asked to attend my ceremony. Can you believe it? The Mayor of my city attended my swear-in ceremony! I felt so important!
Also in attendance were my parents, my brother, my parents-in law, my sister-in law and her family, my husband, son, my old boss and his paralegal and legal secretary. It was quite the turn out, especially for an individual ceremony. I was pretty nervous to appear in front of the judge and take my oath, especially since I was the only one taking it. When the Judge started to read the oath and asked me repeat after her, I thought it would be tacky to just read off the paper in front of me. So, instead, I tried to keep my eyes on the Judge and rely on my auditory skills and memory to recite after her. This worked out fine until about halfway through when the Judge started to recite a phrase that seemed to continue on forever. "Oh shit," I thought to myself as she was mid-sentence. When she finished, I'm sure she saw the fear in my eyes as I had to scour the paper in front of me to try to find that last sentence.

After an awkward minute of silence, I finally found it and tried to repeat it back with all the confidence I could muster. But my nerves were already shot. As I tried to pronounce the word "judiciary" my whole mouth seemed to go numb and my lips fumbled over each other. I just couldn't pronounce the word. Instead I recited, "Dujici...jiducia...judiciary!" My guests got a good chuckle out of that one.

Awesome. My first appearance before the court as an attorney and I almost turned it into a circus. But the Judge was kind enough to pretend that it didn't happen. And I have to say that I felt the power behind the words when I swore to uphold the Constitution of the State of Washington and of the United States.

After the oath, the Judge let my parents give speeches (on the record! I have proof that people said nice things about me). She let me give a mini-speech, which I was totally unprepared for. I ended up thanking everyone in the room except for my husband (sorry husband!). She noticed and let my husband have the final words, but he was too choked up and teary eyed that he couldn't say too much. It was really sweet and, it turns out, his hug said everything.

The Judge then came down to where I was standing to shake my hand. She had all kinds of pleasant and friendly things to say to me. She was the nicest person ever! She told me the legal profession was one of the best and most challenging professions out there. She encouraged me and congratulated me on my future career. Then my old boss made a joke about how he hopes to someday convince me to practice law on the "right" side of the water (my own town rather than Seattle).

It was such a great morning! I usually hate being the center of attention but I felt that this was the pinnacle of all my hard work and sacrifice. For the first time, I actually saw and felt the result of all my efforts over the past 3.5 years. But one of THE BEST PARTS of the entire morning was when the Judge let me take pictures of Jacob sitting in her chair. Here he is banging her gavel (this picture is so going to be framed and put in my office!):

(Please don't judge me that my son still uses a binky! We're trying to wean him off but it's too easy to stick it in his mouth when he starts to scream.)


EH said...

That is, bar none, the BEST swearing in I've ever heard about - SO cool! I love that the community came together to create a memory for your entire family.

Anonymous said...

Aww, I love the hug picture. And the baby gavel.

AA said...

(delurking) I'm a 0L with 2 little ones and really, that story made my day! You have it all! Is it dorky that I teared up a little?

Butterflyfish said...

loves it :-)

Anonymous said...

Oh Cee, I'm so happy that you had such a great ending to so much hard work. Hooray! My swearing ceremony was very different, but also one of my favorite memories.


gudnuff said...

Oh wow, CONGRATULATIONS Cee!!! Wow. Very cool.

I'm glad AA 'fessed up to getting a little I'm not too embarrassed to admit to having the same reaction. You really do seem to have it all. Including an intrepid sense of humor and a warm heart. Thanks for sharing with us. You make the blogosphere a better place. So glad to have followed your journey.

gudnuff said...

...hey, now you can delete the paranthetical phrase in your "About Me" verbiage: "I practice law (well, waiting on bar results) and "play" house."

You're the real-deal now, baby. Woot!

Proto Attorney said...

Best photo ever! Congrats on being bonafide!!

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Downsized Attorney said...

Wow, that's kind of amazing. I was sworn in with hundreds of people. You're luck you got such a nice and memorable experience.